Today I spent my last day with our deaf school as part of HODASSU. After having such an amazing experience with these incredible children the pay before, I was so excited to go back and continue our work. The children seemed equally thrilled to see us! Like heading to most places we “boda-ed” around. I have accepted bodas as the major form of transportation here and have finally become comfortable on them, and embraced the way of life. When we get to the school we immediately start with some Physical Education, sports, gymnastics, games, music lessons, speaking lessons (yes! We have deaf students expressing sound! Learning to sound out letters! This is a pretty magical experience to be part of) The children love using their voices, and although we have to try and keep the other students of this government funded school away (due to the fact that they want to make fun of these “disabled kids” some things never change I suppose, and I think that’s a universal problem, clearly). The day was amazing, I had so much fun with these students and have probably received more hugs from them then anyone in life! Each hug is a small high! When the day ended and we said goodbye, I felt an overwhelming sense of happy/sadness. I am so grateful to have met these children, for the lessons they have taught me, to observe and get to be part of their lives for a very small moment. And then I a sad, sad to say goodbye & to leave them. This has been the first real connection I have felt to anyone here, and felt a real attachment to them. I feel so inspired to do more with myself because of them.
There are so many things in Uganda that are hard to except at custom. Our deaf and mentally disabled students are generally shunned by their families. Some are orphaned by both parents, others by one and living in a single parent home. Some of these children are loved at home, and others are treated and I say this in the least political nicest form possible “horribly”. Which only makes their spirits and positive attitudes that much more incredible. Eustice and the Vice Principle at Walabuka West Primary School are one of the only resources for disabled children in Uganda. HODASSU has a goal to build a center where the children can be educated, away from the harassment and judgment of others, also where the children whom don’t have a home to be housed and cared for. Eustace is amazing, completely inspiring and a unique soul here in Uganda. He stands up for those who cant speak or have any rights. When I spoke with him while walking to the school he said “These children are not disabled, there is nothing wrong with them, in fact they are lucky. God gave them this gift. He willed them to be this way and that was his wish, they are blessed and should be treated so.” He informed me that when parents are asked how many children they have, they will say “2, and THAT ONE” they don’t refer to their disabled children as theirs, a family member or even a person. Which is crazy considering how wonderful these kids are. Eustice encourages the children to work around the house and do all the things they are perfectly capable of doing, hopefully he will get that center and that we will have a large part in making that happen. Im certain it will happen, and happy to know these kids have people that really care about them here in Uganda. Did i cry you may think? yes. of course i did. A child came up to me and signed pointing at me and then a triangle with his hands. I couldn’t understand him and he did it numerous times. I quickly went to Eustice and asking what does this mean? throwing my hands in the position. and he said “home”. i looked at the child and he did it again. my heart could not be fuller. i will never forget this sign, and this statement. I am so so blessed.
I ended the night sitting by the Nile drinking African Tea (the best tea in the WORLD!) watching bats and birds fly by, stopped for some dinner and to meet a new volunteer who arrived, Dana, a real sweetheart. She is a nurse who will be working with Vanessa on our puberty classes! I’m super excited about this class on Saturday. I realize that sounds like a strange thing to be excited about but here, like most things, are pretty undereducated. The mothers do not talk to their girls about ANYTHING to expect, this is not a custom. It feels really important to me to help educate young woman on this matter. Also this will be a forum for questions! These children will get to ask and discuss things that they might never have been able too. I’m really happy to take part in that.
Well, I should shower and head to bed for the night, we are up at 8am tomorrow to work with the Care & Share woman!!
Lots of love,